The $1,000 dash – or how refi is raising my blood pressure

It may seem the dullest and most insignificant of details to point out that many addresses in the desert use a dash between the second and third numbers in five-digit street addresses, while many people omit the dash.

Well, I thought that was pretty insignificant, too, until three days ago. That’s when the little dash, or its omission, threatened to cost me several months and about $1,000 as I tried to refinance my home.

To begin with, this process has dragged on far too long, nearly four months. So when I received a phone message to call my loan processor who works for a bank that shall not be named but whose first name starts with a B and who last name begins with an A, I fully expected to hear that the process was completed and my mortgage payment and term of my mortgage were going down. I had, after all, met every requirement of the process, or so I had been told several times by e-mail.

But the voice on the other end of the line — let’s call him Victor — said there were some challenges that had come up, and that there might be ramifications. Whenever people talk in corporate-ese, I start to get cold chills.

Then he asked the killer question. “What is the address of your property?” Now, forgive me for thinking this, but gosh, that seemed like a really stupid and fundamental question to be asking at this stage of the effort. Still, maybe he was recording this to make sure he was talking to the right person. So I told him 83112 and then the street name and city. On the other end, I hear Victor say, well, we have documentation that says the address is 83-112, street name, city.

I said right. He said no, I had said 83112. Their documents show 83DASH112. Well, yeah, I said, sometimes people use that strange dash around here, sometimes, most times they don’t. No big deal.

Uh, wrong. Big deal. Victor then proceeded to tell me that these folks at this bank somewhere in America were trying to put me into a HARP2 loan through Fannie Mae, and gosh, those underwriter people are awfully particular about everything being JUST right on the applications. I had submitted an application without a dash. So the application was kicked back. And now at least one of the things I had been able to skip at this point, a new appraisal of the property, would be required. That would likely be around $400, Victor reported, and oh, this will slow down the process at least a month.

Victor might have believed he was hearing silence on the other end of the phone, and in one sense he was. He was hearing the sound of absolute dumbfounded disbelief. But as anyone who knows me well could tell you, Victor was also hearing the calm before the storm that was about to swallow him.

It should be noted this conversation was happening in the parking lot of our building here, so I had plenty of open space to test out my lungs.


Well, yes, he said, I understand your frustra . . .

I never let him finish that sentence, or any sentence over the next 15 minutes or so. No you don’t, Victor! You don’t understand the frustration of the dash because it’s not your money. It’s not you who was told about a 60-day pre-approved process which was now at 100 days and which was being derailed by the Killer Dash. Oh, and by the way, it’s not really $400, because I’m also missing out on at least two months of a lower payment because of the Offending Dash, so there another $300. Oh, and appraisals can come with some stupid little “fix this” requirement, so that could be another $200 to $300. So, my good friend Victor, I’m pretty much up to $1,000. OVER A DASH????? In the immortal words of John McEnroe, YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS!!!!!

The $1,000 dash.

Victor, who by this time had aged a year or two on the other end of the phone, hemmed and hawwed and tried a few times to get in a word. At one point, I mentioned that I hoped the person who was monitoring the call for customer service quality was having a good time listening to this. I can imagine this tape going viral inside the offices of this American bank. I also mentioned in my calm, soothing manner that if this was a Washington thing, then it is why people hate Washington. If it was the American bank think, it is why people hate the American bank.

Having been convinced that Victor perhaps now truly understood my frustration, I cut him loose from the call with his pledge to get back to me soon with an update. The next day, I received an e-mail from another person employed by the bank telling me that they were still waiting for word from the underwriters on my loan refi, but they would look into this for me. So either there is absolutely no communications from one soul to another at the bank, or this was a form letter sent out by computer just to reassured that the process that was already stretched out was going to stretch out a little longer.

Two days later, Victor called back. I could imagine him ducking on the other end of the phone when he told me that indeed a full appraisal of the house would be needed because of Dash-gate, and the the process would now move beyond the time I need to make my December payment under the old terms. This time, I didn’t not yell (well, not much) about the utter ridiculous and foolishness of the situation. I just told him I wasn’t all that convinced that his services would be needed any further. This seemed to bother Victor, who kind of begged me to call the other person at the bank of the country and perhaps negotiate better terms.

I can only imagine what that phone call will sound like as the loan officer tries to explain how my efforts have been DASHED!.